We read some profiles from Ireland before listening to this Dublin band; the Irish Press loves them and hails them as the next global hit for the city.
This is partly because the band is so Dublin — “Dublin in the rain is mine,” the vocals bellow within seconds of the opening song Big (as in “I’m going to be …”). They’re also very Irish, that mix of drink, violence and poetry, Too Real partially inspired by TS Eliot’s Preludes, other songs reflecting on the hard life of a working class Dubliner.
First play and we were expecting U2. It’s not that: it’s loud, it’s raucous and it’s irreverent.
All the comparisons we can make are good: Parklife era Blur, mid-career Clash, the Sex Pistols (singer Grian Chatten can roll his Rs in a sneer like Lydon), maybe U2 for the music behind the vocals and The Pogues for the vocals, while not being like any.
And also the Arctic Monkeys: not since the Monkeys has a band so new sounded mature.
When they want to be raucous they can be, when they want more musical refinement (Television Screen) they can do that, too. This last song is as stadium-pleasing as you like, but sits well with the sweaty-bar feel of other parts of the album. After six or seven plays, we can see the reason for the fuss. This is not an overly-hyped band.
The Press notes say they grew up in a Dublin neighbourhood known as The Liberties.
Local characters such as Bang Bang and Forty Coats featured in early songs.
It’s all good, from the opening bars of Big (“My childhood was small, but I’m gonna be big”) with its clanging guitar to Chequeless Reckless, where Chatten delivers the Fontaines’ manifesto: “A sell-out is someone who becomes a hypocrite in the name of money. An idiot is someone who lets their education do all of their thinking. A phony is someone who demands respect for the principles they affect. A dilettante is someone who can’t tell the difference between fashion and style. Charisma is exquisite manipulation. And money is the sandpit of the soul. Money”.
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